Friday, February 24, 2012

A Day For Fertiliser

ALL THIS rain and lovely climate we've been having here in Melbourne, well the garden has gone berserk, so when connectivity went all wobbly in the late morning there was no excuse for leaving the wheelbarrow in the shed one more day. The place now looks quite spiffy, all mulched and trimmed, and just to cap off a day of exertion, five loads of laundry wait to be folded. Underpants will very soon be back in fashion at the Billabong.

As for others' laundry, let's just say some fresh, clean sets of smalls would seem to be called for.

At Fairfax, it was news of a massive profit slump which must have prompted immediate incontinence. That, and  the sotto voce announcement, largely unheard amidst the analysts' laments for a dying business, that the Age will no longer be distributed to "remote" areas. As the newspaper's comfort zone apparently runs no further than Elwood to Northcote, anyone in Preston or beyond will now be forced to settle for the daily edition of El Bairak.

Expect the Age's new distribution map to be finalised shortly, just as soon as executives decide if it should include Altona, Point Cook and Lara, where one of the fourteen full-time reporters covering all the good things about wind turbines once had a flat tyre. When rescued, she reported observing people who spoke English and might enjoy gravalax, but management remains unconvinced, according to sources inside Media House. The tentative plan allows a boutique delivery of Melbourne's journal of record only to the Werribee electorate office of the current prime minister, the one person in that suburb deemed sufficiently evolved to share the paper's perspective on things.

And while fresh Cottontails are being broken out, the big girls at News Ltd could certainly use some. Last year it was Glenn Milne's ouster for daring to wonder if a 35-year-old lawyer really should have figured out she was sleeping with a shakedown artist, the distraction of all those pretty, free frocks from Town Mode notwithstanding.  Before that, the lacklustre handling of Andrew Bolt's defence, followed by the shameful decison not to appeal Judge Mordy's abomination of a ruling. News is spending millions to defend or settle cases arising from the News of the World scandal. Could it not have found some small change to fight for free speech?

And today, well there was a fresh pong of compliant fecklessness about News when the Australian published the apology of a reporter who regretted being verbally aggressive with our PM. Is News Ltd getting twitchy about the Media Inquiry's upcoming report and recommendations? One would hope not, but there is a developing pattern of bahaviour -- and that is why all who care about free speech and the open contest of ideas should feel their own bowels begin to creep.

Imagine, and it is not hard, that Fairfax goes to the wall. What are we left with? A company that runs scared when government scowls. God help us if that is the case. Fairfax does not deserve to be preserved on the strength of recent achievements, which are negligible, but for its potential to once again hold our leaders' feet to the fire. Who knows, that approach might even sell a few copies in those "remote" areas the paper no longer sees as being worth its while.

25 comments:

  1. Does Mr Rudd know that he is now influencing Westminster....
    'A Labour MP was dragged away in handcuffs after going berserk in a House of Commons bar and headbutting a fellow MP.'
    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-24037762-mp-arrested-over-commons-bar-brawl.do#.T0Y95vdTYBg.twitter

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  2. That's it old boy, give 'em both hell.

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  3. The north/south article is hilarious - exhibit B in everything that is wrong with the Age, though in fairness exhibit A was the wonderful Wendy Squires article in January about how Sydney is so much worse than Melbourne because up there everyone rudely phones their cocaine dealers at your dinner parties:

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/hate-to-tell-you-sydney-but-youre-on-the-nose-20120120-1qac3.html

    - an article published in both cities, a lesson in everything that is wrong and terminal about Fairfax, which the new crisis management seem ineffective to fix. Extraordinary. Millions of boring Sydneysiders, not to mention Melburnians, who do NOT have their dinner parties interrupted by oafish guests phoning their cocaine dealers en masse, must read this kind of rubbish with a mixture of bemusement and contempt: this self-obsessed, self-admiring tosh is intelligent journalism? Do they wonder, down at Spencer St (is that still where the Age is?), why no-one is buying it in the sticks?

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    1. Relax, they're just 'targeting their demographic', all the way to oblivion.

      Will Squirette Squires be one of the lucky ones to grab an ALPBC sinecure, one wonders?

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    2. Yes, I shouldn't bother but it gets up my nose, if you'll pardon the expression. These people make clucking noises and say that the Oz is the font of all journalistic evil. Yet the Oz is a grown-up newspaper; it doesn't print such glib, self-congratulatory drivel as the Squires article. To the people who run the Oz opinion page (which serves up a range of views that you don't see in the Fairfax papers), the idea would seem childish, viscerally embarrassing, appropriate for a gen z or y throwaway rag that you see in piles outside a nightspot, but not for a serious newspaper.

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    3. I work in a mixed business in a small country town. At a rough guess we would sell 300 Herald-Suns, 200 Ballarat Couriers, 100 Weekly Times, 50 Stock and Land, 50 Pyrenees Advocates, and The Age would be in a relegation dog-fight with the Hamilton Spectator on around 20 per week.

      A handful of locals get the Saturday Age, and a couple on Thursday but otherwise only the odd copy to a passer-by is sold. Having read that North/South article I will be able to determine what side of the Yarra they are from now.

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  4. What to do about Fairfax.

    Essentially, float Rural Press back off (they just bought it in 2007!) and get the digital assets out from under the thumb of the metro publishing division, so that the valuation of the latter isn't applied to the former. And then of course there's the metro radio stations they decided against selling.

    A lot of potential value there for Gina and whoever else decides to buy in.

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  5. The overall restructre plan seems sensible, albeit ten years late, but they're still ignoring the most salient fact; they are producing irrelevant tripe that nobody wants to buy.
    Here is a list of PooFax's poo fas.
    Climate change: everyone's fed up with this nonsense except for the more beligerent of post modernists.
    Labor Party luvvie duvving: anybody who has to genuninely labour for a living can't stand them or their labour destroying policies.
    Political Correctness: the last ideological bastion of the left, and all that's left when logic has had it's way with their worldview. PC is widely hated by just about anybody with an imagination. Which is just about everybody.

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  6. I'm just curious as to what is a rude journalist? Did Mr Owan fart at Julia Gillard? Or swear? Or moon her mid question? What rudeness did he display when asking a politician a question? Should he bow first?

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    1. He was pretty rude, but in his defence it's only because she wouldn't stop lying.

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  7. That's a pretty unfair attack on News Ltd over the Bolt affair.

    The company's defence was as robust as it could have been. It was led by Neil Young, QC, a former judge of the Federal Court and no slouch as an advocate.

    As for the decision not to appeal, Bromberg J's judgment sewed things up very tightly - it did leave one avenue of appeal open but that was a trap because it basically invited a superior court to make a finding as to whether or not Bolt was a racist.

    Understandably, News decided that wasn't worth the risk.

    You've banged on about Bromberg ever since, but all he did was apply the law as it's written.

    Your real problem is clearly with the law itself.

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    1. I'm glad the Professor has finally belled the disloyal News Ltd. I was appalled at its throwing AB to the wolves after that court case. I've made comments about this disloyalty in AB's blog but the "moderators" refuse to publish them. Bolt should leave these wretched bastards and seek far better ones.

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    2. Anonymous, actually it is a mild criticism of Young's defence. Not once in the course of the inquisition did News' counsel dare to grapple with the nub of the case: what being "aboriginal" really means.

      Why wasn't Larissa Behrendt quizzed, and quizzed at length, about her heritage and, most particularly, about her recollections of the middle-age crisis that saw her father leave the family and discover -- Presto! -- that he was a full-blown blackfella. Why was there no examination of her sob story about dad's being "stolen" (she never actually uses that word, merely implies it) by a white and racist orphanage? Fact is, her white grandad put his own kids in the orphanage after his second wife's death. He reclaimed them after scoring a Housing Commission three-bedroom home.

      Why wasn't the generational subject of Behrendt family preferment explored, the preferment that sprang from dad's transformative identification as Aboriginal. He was a lift mechanic and former RAN sparky who became a civilian air traffic controller and, once certified as black, an indigenous academic. His Navy records, by the way, list him only as "olive skinned". His daughter was raised in Cooma and on Norfolk Island, so why wasn't it put to her that her exposure to Aboriginal culture begins with a daughter's desire to get closer to the father who abandoned his family and on the feeble strength of her attendance at Aboriginal political meetings in her teens?

      Look, I could go about all the discrepancies between Behrendt's version of her life and the official record -- and Young definitely should have gone on about it. But he didn't, presumably because he did not want to step into the minefield of race and racial identification. Well he had to go there, because it is that identification which is the basis for a law that says, in part, that the entirely subjective offence taken by an individual is, and should be, the basis for legal action.

      And here is a final thought. Not long before News and Bolt were dragged before Mordy, the company spent an untold fortune battling with the Herald Sun's sacked editor, who not only won but demonstrated that two very senior execs were afflicted with, ahem, weak and selective memories.

      If a human resources case was worthy of that investment, surely Mordy's crimp on free speech was moreso. If, as you say, it was a doomed case, then a further demonstration of the law's iniquity would have further established that fact and boosted the case for repeal.

      Instead, News cut and ran, leaving its premier and bravest columnist to twist in the wind. Shameful, absolutely shameful.

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    3. Don't agree with this. I have read the Bolt judgment and whether or not he was a "racist" was not an issue in the case.

      The factual findings were unfortunate, but there were nevertheless several appeal points that need to be aired in the High Court, notably the preposterously high standard imported (according to the Full Federal Court) by the words "resonably and in god faith".

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    4. Indeed it wasn't. But that "reasonably and in good faith" point that Bromberg left available for appeal would invite a detailed examination of Bolt's motives.

      I'm not sure of what Bunyip is a professor, but I'm pretty sure it's not law. Put it this way: isn't it possible that if the case had been run in a different way the outcome could have been worse for Bolt?

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    5. No, an appeal wouldn't invite a reexamination of Bolt's personal motives, and the reason is that Eatock and her fellow complainants conceded Bolt's subjective honesty - that is, they conceded that he believed the views he had expressed. What brought Bolt undone (apart from the factual errors that tainted his defence of fair comment) was two things. First, the insistence by full Court benches of the Federal Court in prior cases - which bound Bromberg J - that "good faith" has an "objective" dimension, more than personal honesty, and requires "a conscientious adherence to the spirit of the Racial Discrimination Act" (Bropho's case) - one of the silliest utterances to have come from the Court in recent times. Secondly, the unrealistically high standard set by Courts generally when "reasonableness" is required to be proved. It's all too tempting to set the bar at perfection, without appreciating it, especially when you are ideologically or otherwise disapproving of the respondent. These are issues that urgently require an airing in the High Court, because the Full Federal Court has set the bar too high when it comes to the construction of the relevant provisions of the RDA.

      As to professor Bunyip's criticisms, it is true that Bolt and the HWT conceded the various witnesses had always genuinely identified as aborigines, and not for base motives. I can't offer any comment, because I know nothing of the facts of the case but what is in the judgment, but if Young QC and his team conceded those matters, I suspect that they were sound concessions. These are factual questions, arising from oral evidence, and had Bromberg J found against Bolt and the HWT on those matters, there would realistically have been nothing that could have been done about it on appeal, and I agree with you that it could have been much worse for Bolt and the HWT.

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    6. "No, an appeal wouldn't invite a reexamination of Bolt's personal motives, and the reason is that Eatock and her fellow complainants conceded Bolt's subjective honesty"

      Point conceded. The flip side is that News's failure to mount a detailed and specific reasonableness defence would make it harder for them on appeal.

      But again, the reasons behind that seem to me pretty sound, tactically - ie it could have been much worse for them if they did.

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    7. At the risk of boring everyone silly and just having a conversation with myself, I would add that Bromberg J revelled in the nice and absurdly aspirational construction that the full Federal Court has imposed on the expressions "reasonably" and "in good faith", and pilloried Bolt, savagely and unfairly, over his failure to meet those standards, in his view. That is what I would have though might have been fertile material for an appeal, eventually to the High Court.

      The reality is that Bromberg J, although one one level simply applying the law as he was obliged to do, decided that Bolt had failed miserably to meet the required standard, when another judge might have taken a different view. I mean, he let Bolt have it with both barrels. At one point in the judgment, he dutifully said that freedom of speech is not limited to the freedom to speak inoffensively, but then immediately questioned that approach where community relations were involved, and went on to approach the case from the perspective he had just eschewed. An admirably conscientious judgement in some respects; but ultimately, in my opinion, Bolt never stood a chance with Bromberg.

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  8. Correction to the comment above: It was not Behrendt Sr.'s second wife, but his first.

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  9. PhillipGeorge(c)2019February 24, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    Remote areas are where monstrosities called wind turbines thump out their low oscillation spine shaking frequencies in homage to pagan gods and pagan principles, genuinely dark skinned people are getting the dole day skin full and real green houses bask in sunlight and soak up supplemented atmospheric fertilizer called Carbon Dioxide. Its where people know about an ambulance taking more than 9 minutes to get to someone under a rolled tractor, people are brought up to think about earning an income from their own human effort. Where the idea of making "a living" reciting platitudes to fill sound bites for the nightly news services will always fall flat.

    Julia is even now being congratulated for "spin, hollow rhetoric, 'performances' where she evades questions, and delivers no substantial anything;

    moving forward,
    growing pains,
    jobs for the future,
    new economy,
    restructuring,
    keeping up,
    vision for Australia"

    Its all an endless BER.

    The two and one dimensional worlds of LCD screens, sound bites, photo ops, and media have all missed something about Julia and today's political class - it isn't class!

    The life and blood flesh of real human beings, red earth, mud, blood sweat and tears. In their two dimensional fairy book world you can't smell sweat, feel venereal disease or hear a fart of someone upwind of you.

    Carbon dioxide is what plants need to grow. More of it means faster growth. It isn't complicated. 95 percent of the Earth's plant life is C3 carbon fixation.

    Its a fact based observation. Is there a time for it.

    In a real economy facts are material things, with very real consequences. The carbon in coal was Carbon Dioxide in the real Earth air and forests grew from coast to coast. Get a handle on it. If you want your indoor plants to grow faster invite some smokers around and close the windows.

    What am I saying Prof, don't f....... Australia over a god-damned lie, or tolerate a politician who put herself there exploiting one.

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  10. Phillip George. 'Getting on with the job,' is the latest grating mantra that makes you want to stick pins in your eyes. And you overlooked, 'Endless negativity.' This, I think, applies to, 'The Wrecker.'

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  11. Wise-Owl.com director Imran Valibhoy said that even though the results are disappointing they were not overly surprising.

    "Fairfax is going in a different direction," he said. "Most people are starting to realise it's going to be a tough time for them."

    No [humbug], Sherlock?
    Thought about changing the business name from Wise-Owl.com to bleeding-obvious-discovered-too -late.com?

    Irish Lion

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  12. So …. To paraphrase the new distribution policy … “We will not distribute our rag to those who do not read it and to whom we only pay attention when we wish to demean them as yokels and red-necks”

    Irish Lion

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  13. David Marr's campaigning in The Age today for his preferred Labor leader. Apparently only just now are we learning of the _real_ reason for Julia's knifing of Kevin (you'll be shocked): see it was in fact because Kevin Rudd was ballsing up running the country! But we didn't know that as we accepted Julia's words on face value, that _Labor_ had lost their way, words laced with sympathy for Kevin which disguised the real reason. Thanks David Marr for clearing this up for us dribbling imbeciles, I mean, your dear audience.

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  14. Hallo Perfessor. I've actually read a printed copy of the Silly today - it was picked out of a rubbish bin, still wrapped in plastic. Tempted to throw it straight back, or just leave it suffocating on the ground like an unwanted European Carp, I decided to revisit the world of the Left instead. Sometimes it's good to remind Oneself how lucky One is to live in the real world.
    Anyway the upshot of it is, in all of the huge spread on Labor's 'leadership' fiasco there isn't a single quote from or mention of the Liberal Party, let alone TAbbott himself. Unless you count Lenore Taylor's front page headline calling the Liberal Party a bunch of mad men. You read that correctly - it's not the Labor Party who are the mad men, but the Liberal Party. Apparently the Liberal Party have nothing to say on this matter, according to Australia's quality journalists.
    And thus, the good ship Poofax sinks a little further into the Sea of Irrelevance.

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